Advancing Human Rights in Patient Care through Strategic Litigation: Challenging Medical Confidentiality Issues in Countries in Transition

  • Author: Susie Talbot


The concept of human rights in patient care offers a framework, relevant to both patients and providers, for identifying and addressing human rights violations within a state’s health system. While a range of legal and non-legal mechanisms are available to advance this concept (and, indeed, are generally used to best effect in combination as part of a wider advocacy strategy), this paper considers the use of strategic litigation to hold states to account and encourage broader systemic change. As an illustration of such an approach, this article focuses on the issue of breaches of medical confidentiality—a pervasive problem in certain countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with serious implications for vulnerable or marginalized individuals. This paper presents an overview of the European Court of Human Rights’ approach to this topic and discusses the potential for further strategic litigation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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